Chris Grant introduced the next Red Rose Coach session with links to the scientific literature in group dynamics. He noted that informed insight and skill enable sharp interventions in team contexts.
Wilfred Bion‘s work in group dynamics was discussed. Bion noted that groups undertake Work Activity where the group is working towards its legitimate tasks. A second characteristic of the group is Security Activity. In this mode the group is engaged in defending itself against anxiety. (Note links to ‘forming’ and managing anxiety.) A group is either engaged in work or security. Some groups never get to their work beyond their anxiety.
Anxiety groups look for a saviour, for pairing (powerful people come together within the team) and decide whether to fight or flee (including avoiding issues).
Chris noted the cycle of Work and Security in groups. He discussed the importance of values and behaviors in absorbing new members to a group.
Chris spent some time discussing player leadership groups and accelerating group dynamics. Noted addressing issues that are difficult to speak about and the process of bringing issues into the open. Chris developed these themes with a discussion of pairing. Discussed addressing explicitly the most senior person in the senior pair. Discussed political awareness and realities too.
The morning’s discussion was concluded with an exercise to identify four characteristics of successful teams. Agreed that over lunch to work on what you would do to develop one of the characteristics. Each member of the group to have a commitment to develop at least one of the characteristics
Surfside Lifesaving Station
Balancing on the Invisible
In the second part of the morning Chris followed up the Jenga exercise with three questions:
- What did you notice about yourself in the exercise? (Feelings, roles, engagement)
- What did you notice about anyone else during the exercise?
- What part of the exercise reminded you of your job, club, squad (or what was very different)?
Chris suggested that to function individually and collectively we need to make multiple decisions and take action. He considered how we look and see. Can we see the obvious?
Chris noted that successful teams deliver on a task (and enjoy tasks). Noted that teams support each other both in getting on with a task and doing something critical to impact on success. He concluded the discussion with a consideration of leading, following and silence.
Chris noted three levels of competence:
- Content (what are we going to do)
- Process (how will we do this?)
Chris proposed that a skilled leader works on all three levels. He then talked about working on hypotheses to develop a team and crossing all three levels. Chris noted that the capacity to receive feedback is vital in teams. This part of the day concluded with a discusion of labelling in team contexts and stereotyping behaviour.
I had the great good fortune to be invited to sit in on a workshop at Twickenham organised by Kevin Bowring.
The workshop was facilitated by Chris Grant and focused on team dynamics.
Knowledge, technique and self-awareness were foregrounded in two introductory exercises: “a word for the week” and a continuum of personal expectations for the day. These exercises were followed up by Jenga tower exercise building to 104 levels across four tables (from a starting 72 levels across the four tables).